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Legal Memorandum: Duty of Care in Premises Liability Cases

Issue: Under Illinois law, in a premises liability case what factors are considered when determining whether a party owes a duty to another in a business setting?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Duty of care; Premises liability case; Common law duty factors
Jurisdiction: Illinois
Cited Cases: 32 S.W.3d 106; 721 N.E.2d 614; 803 N.E.2d 166
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 09/01/2015

In a premises liability cause of action, the question whether a defendant owed a duty to a plaintiff is governed by the following issues:

In premises liability cases, including those where a guest suffered injury while on hotel premises, Illinois courts determine whether a duty of care exists by considering the common law duty factors of (1) reasonable foreseeability of the injury; (2) likelihood of the injury; (3) magnitude of the burden on the defendant of guarding against the injury; and (4) consequences of placing the burden on the defendant.

Schmid v. Fairmont Hotel Co.-Chicago, 345 Ill. App. 3d 475, 484, 803 N.E.2d 166, 173 (2003).  Illinois courts have stated the well-settled rule that the defendant owes a business invitee on the defendant’s premises the duty to exercise ordinary care in maintaining its premises in a reasonably safe condition.  Wiegman v. Hitch-Inn Post of Libertyville, Inc., 308 Ill. App. 3d 789, 801, 721 N.E.2d 614, 624 (1999).  Guidance can be taken from premises slip-and-fall cases.*FN1

Where a business invitee is injured by slipping on the premises, liability may be imposed if the substance was placed there by the negligence of the proprietor or his servants, or, if the substance was on the premises through acts of third persons or there is no showing of how it got there, liability may be imposed if it appears that the proprietor or his […]

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